FIFA threatens to suspend Brazil over confederation president's removal by court

A Rio de Janeiro court removed Rodrigues and all his appointees at CBF from office on Dec. 7 due to irregularities in his election last year

By AP

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Mon 25 Dec 2023, 10:39 AM

Last updated: Mon 25 Dec 2023, 8:16 PM

FIFA warned Brazil on Sunday it could suspend its national teams and clubs from international competitions if an intervention by its soccer body leads to the election of a new president in January.

FIFA said in a letter to a Brazilian soccer executive that the country's soccer body CBF could face suspension if it does not heed its call to wait and instead holds a swift election to replace Ednaldo Rodrigues as president regardless. The document was obtained by The Associated Press.

A Rio de Janeiro court removed Rodrigues and all his appointees at CBF from office on Dec. 7 due to irregularities in his election last year. Brazil's two highest courts upheld that ruling last week.

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Soccer’s governing body FIFA historically rejects government and third-party interference in its member associations, which ultimately could leave five-time World Cup winners Brazil out of major competitions until the crisis is solved.

The Rio court ruling also named José Perdiz, the head of Brazil’s top sports court, as an intervener to organize new elections for the presidency within 30 working days. FIFA said in previous letters to CBF it considers the intervention to be undue.

Sunday's letter was signed by FIFA’s Kenny Jean-Marie, its chief members’ association officer, and CONMEBOL’s deputy secretary-general, Monserrat Jiménez Garcia.

FIFA and South American soccer body CONMEBOL also said in the letter they will form a commission to discuss the matter in Brazil on Jan. 8.

“FIFA and CONMEBOL would like to strongly emphasize that, until such mission takes place, no decision affecting CBF, including any elections or call for elections, shall be taken. Should this not be respected, FIFA will have no other option but to submit the matter to its relevant decision-making body for consideration and decision, which might also include a suspension,” the letter said.

“For the sake of good order, we would also like to underline that should CBF be eventually suspended by the relevant FIFA body, it would lose all of its membership rights with immediate effect and until the suspension is lifted by FIFA. This would also mean that CBF representative and clubs teams would no longer be entitled to take part in any international competition while it is suspended,” it added.

The document also says that any irregular interference in its member associations “can lead to sanctions as provided for in the FIFA Statutes, including a suspension, and this even if the third-party influence was/is not the fault of the member association concerned.”

Perdiz said in a statement he sees FIFA’s letter “as a positive sign.” He also added he will “call for the elections within the established deadline, with the transparency and integrity that are demanded.”

Spokespersons for Rodrigues did not respond a request for comment from the AP.

Rodrigues first took the job as interim president in 2021 after predecessor Rogério Caboclo was suspended. Local media reported he is currently in negotiations with other Brazilian soccer executives to either bid again for the presidency in new elections or to support another candidate.

Rodrigues’ term in office runs through 2026. He is yet another CBF president to face legal problems in recent years, though he is not involved in corruption cases like predecessors Ricardo Teixeira, José Maria Marin and Marco Polo del Nero.

Caboclo was suspended from the presidency in September 2021 in connection with a sexual harassment case at the CBF, which opened the path for vice presidents to elect Rodrigues as the first Black president of the soccer body.

The ruling against the 69-year-old Rodrigues could hurt Brazil’s bid to host the Women’s World Cup in 2027 and his quest to hire Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti to lead the national team next year.

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